I’ve seen so many posts from both men and women already today asking these questions – why do we have an International Women’s Day and no male equivalent? (Technically, there is – Men’s Day Nov 19th.) That’s a bit sexist isn’t it? Is this a new feminist way to say women are better than men…?
The point of International Women’s Day is to celebrate and applaud the success of women all over the globe. I think, more importantly, it starts discussions like this and highlights just how far women have come in the search for equality and also how far we still have to go.
As for it being ‘sexist’, or another way for feminists to make headlines, let me ask you this…
You’re such a feminist. That’s a feminist value… Why is that such an insult? Why is that so negative?
Feminism shouldn’t be about the hatred of men – far from it. I am a feminist and I in no way hate men. Feminism shouldn’t be claiming women are better than men – I am a feminist and I in no way think because I am a woman, I am better than a man.
Feminism is about men and women being equal.
The first IWD took place back in 1909, which of course is a world away from how women are seen and treated today. Yet still misogyny (hatred of women) is everywhere, from the difference in wages of men and women, the way men and women are portrayed differently in the media, to even the way we speak to one another.
You may believe it, you may not… Let me try and explain with this example…
My sister Gabrielle is 10 years old. She loves sports. She also loves dolls and plaiting her hair. Recently she was selected to play as part of the school football team… her and ten boys.
Now that isn’t the point I’m trying to make with this story – the other girls just weren’t good enough to make the team, she was, that’s fair enough.
She scored two goals herself in that match, as well as setting up a number of others – a better performance than a number of boys playing. And this is what people said about her afterwards…
“She’s so good, she plays like a boy”
“If she didn’t have long hair I would’ve thought she was a boy”
Even my Dad said, “Sometimes I think she should’ve been born a boy.”
No. She is a girl. She plays football like a girl.
Of course none of those statements were meant with any bad meaning behind them (especially from my Dad who is one of our biggest cheerleaders and is, with my Mum, bringing up a seriously strong set of determined O’Connor women) but this is the kind of language we see as normal now, yet it is so derogative. We call a strong-willed girl ‘bossy’ but a boy with the same temperament is a ‘leader.’
Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche (you’ll know her from Beyonce’s Flawless video) said this in her essay, “We Should All be Feminists”-
“Men and women are different. We have different hormones and different sexual organs and different biological abilities – women can have babies, men cannot. Men have more testosterone and are, in general physically stronger than women. There are slightly more women than men in the world – 52 per cent of the world’s population is female but most of the positions of power and prestige are occupied by men…
So in a literal way, men rule the world. This made sense – a thousand years ago. Because human beings lived then in a world in which physical strength was the most important attribute for survival; the physically stronger person was more likely to lead. And men in general are physically stronger. (There are of course many exceptions.) Today, we live in a vastly different world. The person more qualified to lead is not the physically stronger person. It is the more intelligent, the more knowledgeable, the more creative, more innovative. And there are no hormones for those attributes.
A man is as likely as a women to be intelligent, innovative and creative. We have evolved. But our ideas of gender have not evolved very much.”